A small turn off Gerald Drive in the Yio Chu Kang area is all it takes to transport you to another era
Kampong Lorong Buangkok is #SingaporesLast mainland village. Established in 1956, it is a cluster of zinc-roofed houses spread around a surau (small mosque), separated by dirt tracks. Street signs here are of the old variety, displaying four-digit postal codes. Unlike the rest of Singapore, power cables still hang overhead on poles.
Around 30 families live here. They own the homes but rent the land from Madam Sng Mui Hong, who owns the ground on which the village sits. She charges the same rent from the past, between $4.50 and $30 a month. For tenants who are short on money, she accepts fruits and rice as payment in kind. An almost equal number of Chinese and Malay families live in this close-knit community.
In the 1960s, Singapore went through race riots. But the Chinese and Malay residents at the kampung looked after each other, keeping the village unaffected by external chaos. Their solidarity was rooted in the village’s early days, when the houses were built communally, with neighbours helping to transport sand to fill the muddy ground so construction could begin. This spirit of gotong royong (Malay for “mutual assistance”) also extended to other aspects of village life, including weddings, sicknesses and funerals. Even today, the house gates are left wide open and pet chickens roam around freely.
Mdm Sng promised her late father, who purchased this former swampland, that she would preserve Kampong Lorong Buangkok. She will not sell the land, valued at $33 million in 2007, because, she said: “I can never regain this feeling of simplicity and freedom, and be close to my childhood memories.” In 2014, a proposal to redevelop the area for public amenities led to calls for the conservation of the village. For now, the authorities have stated no intention for its redevelopment in the near future.
Kampong Lorong Buangkok is the last example of village life, where community and camaraderie come before commercial considerations. It shows mutual trust can transcend race and religious identity; and that the pleasure of living in peace and harmony is truly priceless. #SGinHarmony
References: Remember Singapore, Jalan Kayu Trail, Singapore Infopedia (NLB), Project Kampong Lorong Buangkok — Singapore Mainland’s Last Rural Village, BBC Travel, The Smart Local, Honeycombers, TODAY